A major intelligence leak has occurred, revealing US military plans and assessments for Russia, Ukraine, China, South Korea, Turkey, Egypt, and Israel – possibly others. The treasonous leaker was a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman. What are the implications? How and why did this happen? Where do we go from here? Implications are layered, reasons this occurred serious.
As a former naval intelligence officer myself, once cleared to TS/SCI – compartmented level, who also held Top Secret in two White Houses and five years of congressional oversight, my eyes popped at this.
Six implications flow from this news – not being covered by mainstream media. Some are obvious, others not. Here they are:
First, release of this highly sensitive intelligence instantly puts American military and intelligence personnel in harm’s way, compromising national security missions and personnel. It also places adversaries on notice as to our depth of knowledge, understanding, institutional penetration, analytical errors, and planned actions.
So, tactically, before anything else is discussed, this is a gut punch to those in the field. Without question, missions will be called off, personal pulled, a complete rethink necessary to compensate –invariably with loss of time, elevated risk, and likely loss of life.
Second, beyond loss of tactical advantage, this leak puts all US assets, those individuals within the national security environments of the foreign countries above, in immediate jeopardy. Assets who trusted the United States to keep them safe, protect their identities and families, and assure the limbs they were out on were not be sawed off – are now in freefall, their limbs axed, their lives on the line.
Infuriatingly, this is not unlike what Biden himself did to the Americans and American allies – who numbered tens of thousands – when he ran away from Afghanistan, literally giving lists of names of to the Taliban, of those who had trustingly sworn their lives to America.
But here, the impact is not limited to one country, or just about stupidity, arrogance, and indifference to human life. This was a knowing disgorgement of data that will almost certainly lead to the death of US assets, no escape route, their identities clear by inference from the classified documents leaked.
Third, US allies already in “doubt mode” over Biden will conclude the US cannot be trusted. If a 21-year old, reckless, game-playing, self-adulating – arguably disturbed, indisputably treasonous – leaker can get hands on top secret material and spread it like birdseed to the wind, who would trust?
The reality is that this leak will shut off intel sharing in some degree, based on added distrust of the Biden regime, fear that foreign assets – those of our allies – will also be placed at risk. The damage is real, and could later lead to loss of US lives, since what we do not know – can kill us.
Fourth, the fact that this irresponsible, childish, yet blithely death-dealing young person got into the US military at all, let alone got a TS clearance – likely to compensate for Biden’s woke military recruiting shortfalls – is a shocker. The idea that we would let someone like this have access is dumbfounding.
What this really means is that the vetting process – deep checks on individuals – has been abandoned, or is so compromised as to be untrustworthy. This should give all pause. This is our national security.
Fifth, to deal with this failure – and to assess where other similar failures may be hiding – significant intelligence resources will have to be redirected, creating a loss when we cannot afford redirection.
Sixth, the knock-on effects of this bumbling release of highly sensitive intelligence will – you know this, but think on it again – hearten, empower, and enthuse our adversaries to work harder. If we learned China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea had betrayers from within, we would maximize our effort. They will.
Now stop, and ask why and how this happened. Let us be crystal clear why this happened. Beyond a failed vetting process, woke military scrambling to get recruits, no oversight, disinterest in detail, loss of discipline within ranks and leadership, bad stuff rolls downhill.
No one will say so, but if the boss does not care one twit about classified documents, leaves them in a half dozen locations, from his garage to an office paid for by China, carts his son around the world –last week to Ireland – after that same son did big million-dollar deals with Communist China and Ukraine, what is a lowly 21-year old gong to think? He is going to think classified is like refried – who cares?
This brings us to the end of this diatribe. What should happen will not – but it still should. This breach is huge, and it should lead to a rethink about Biden’s breaches, his son’s illegalities, then resignation of the Secretaries of Defense and Air Force, conviction and sentencing of this offender, who faces the death penalty for treason under 18 USC 2381. Treason matters, if America still matters. And we do.
Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.